As hunting season comes to an end, it is not too early to begin preparing for next season by properly maintaining your firearm.  

During hunting season, a firearm is often exposed to rain, mud, and used to fire multiple shots. It is tempting to store it without proper cleaning and care. This mistake will lead to serious mechanical and safety problems.  A thorough cleaning and inspection will ensure its safe and efficient operation next hunting season.

This column will explore proper end of hunting season firearm care to allow you to hit the mark. The sources used are the Mississippi State University Extension Service publication “Cleanliness: A Guide to Firearm Maintenance” and the Mississippi Hunter Ed Study Guide.

Preparation

Before beginning end of season firearm care it is important to prepare your work area, read the owner’s manual, and gather needed supplies. Always make sure the firearm is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction before beginning the cleaning process. 

The table or bench that will be used to clean the firearm should be cleared of all clutter, debris, and ammunition.  It is important to read the owner’s manual to become familiar with the firearm and to learn the steps to clean it properly. If the process seems too complex don’t hesitate to contact a qualified gunsmith that can do the job for you.

  

It is essential to have all the needed supplies at your fingertips before cleaning your firearm.  The following supplies will be helpful in the proper cleaning and maintenance of firearms.

  • Gun cradle to firmly support the firearm horizontally
  • Canned compressed air
  • Clean cloths
  • Aerosol or liquid gun oil
  • Cleaning solvent
  • Cleaning kit with brushes, swabs, and cleaning rods and attachments that are compatible with your firearm. When cleaning automatic or lever action firearms a flexible cleaning cable can be helpful.

Firearm Cleaning

The extent that the firearm will need to be cleaned will depend on how it was used.  If the firearm was used in dry conditions and not fired, wiping the gun with a clean cloth and gun oil may be sufficient.  Take care to wipe the firearm everywhere the metal was touched. 

If the firearm was fired and used  in wet conditions a more thorough cleaning is in order. The barrel and other parts should be removed to facilitate a more extensive cleaning.  Always refer to the owner’s manual before disassembling a firearm.  The steps for cleaning a firearm are listed below.

  • Take a clean cloth and cleaning solvent to remove dirt and gunpowder from the firearm.
  • Clean the gun barrel from the breech end using a cleaning rod equipped with a bore brush or solvent soaked patch. Swab the barrel several times with clean patches until they come out clean.  Afterwards, use a dry patch followed by a lightly oiled patch. 
  • Clean the firearm action with solvents and brushes to completely remove dirt, dust, and gunpowder.  
  • As a final step, apply a complete layer of gun oil to prevent rust. Also, remember to clean dirt and debris from ammunition.

Proper Storage

The final step in proper firearm care involves proper storage. Firearms should be kept clean and dry by storing them in a temperature and humidity controlled location. Firearms should not be stored in gun cases that can accumulate moisture and encourage rusting. Always lock firearms and ammunition separately to prevent theft and accidents. A gun safe can be an excellent investment to protect firearms.

It’s never too early to get ready for the next hunting season.  Proper cleaning and storage will ensure that your firearm is ready to go when the time is right. 

For more information on this topic refer to the current Off Road with Extension video.  Gunsmith Dale Butler, owner of  Richey’s Gun Shop, offers expert advice on proper firearm cleaning and care. The Off Road with Extension video series is available on the Pontotoc County Extension Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PontotocCoExtension.

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